CBP’s New Multi-Role Aircraft

As we know, Customs and Border Protection effectively duplicates the Coast Guard role in drug enforcement and Alien Interdiction in many areas. The Witchita Eagle reports they are currently in the process of buying up to 40 new “multi-role aircraft” in the form of sensor equipped Beech KingAir 350s, or C-12s to use the military designation. (Note Witchita is home of Beech Aircraft)

“According to the agency’s documents, the request calls for a plane whose sensors are able to detect a plane the size of a Cessna 172 from 17 miles away, a 30-foot boat from 29 miles away and a person from seven miles away. It must be able to “classify the target” at a distance of 2 miles, the request said.”

Significantly, the first of these have been assigned to San Diego and Jacksonville, FL, suggesting they will be used for maritime interdiction.

We have talked about this aircraft before as a possible alternative to long ranged, high endurance UAVs and possibly the HC-144.

These appear to be extremely capable aircraft, perhaps equal in effectiveness to HC-144 as search aircraft, and cheaper to operate. If we are not careful the CBP may make the CG appear inefficient by comparison.

These might also be more appropriate for the interception mission CG helicopters currently perform over Washington DC.

Even after the C-27J acquisition, it appears the Coast Guard will still be short of its planned total required number of fixed wing search aircraft. Is a common airframe for both CBP and the CG out of the question?

10 thoughts on “CBP’s New Multi-Role Aircraft

  1. Maybe it’s time that Congress redefines the role of between the US Coast Guard and the Customs and Border Protection. It seems like the US Customs and Border Protection is mission creeping into what the US Coast Guard is already doing. I think the USCG should take over some of the missions that are being done by the US Customs and Border Protection cause Mission creep is going wind being a huge fight over who dose what between the USCG and US Customs and Border Protection.

    • I think ALL maritime surveillance missions adjacent to CONUS should be conducted by the USCG (the USN MPA role in that requires more definition), BUT at this point in time with the USCG having a hard time getting its assets bought, I would not expect them to take on a inter-departmental battle.

  2. It’s hard to know what appendage of CBP is acquiring these aircraft. The Office of Air and Marine has (I’d like to say obviously, but it tends not to be) boats and aircraft and the scuttlebutt is that Border Patrol is building a fleet of both too. We’re not likely to get more role clarity or cross agency coordination given the current dust-up over the southern border.

    • I believe the OAM is the agency within DHS which buys all aircraft and boats for CBP? A video on the OAM website and some cable shows indicates its fleet size and broad reach when it comes to acquisition.
      But you are right the southern boarder is shroded in administration BS right now~

      • You’d think that was the case. I was chatting with an OAM operator, he mentioned that BP was deploying boats and crews….I think he also said some were former CG Defender class boats.

      • There is a large OAM contingent in our AOR…I’ve never seen anything smaller than a 33′ SafeBoat…more often a 38′ SB or Midnight Express variant.

      • BTW I am in JAX and my neighbor works for OAM on the aviation side. I would suspect that OAM can buy patrol boats off the GSA schedule 84 just like the USN does?

  3. A historical note. In 1930, President Hoover signed an Executive Order transferring the Border Patrol and Customs Patrol to the Coast Guard. Nothing happened. When FDR was elected he took the same order and pushed it at the Coast Guard. Nothing happened.

    When R. R. Waesche became Commandant the matter was raised again. Waesche had his staff do a study and they found there would be no cost savings in adding the civilian employees to the Coast Guard. FDR agreed and the matter ended. However, it is interesting to speculate the ‘what if’ in this story.

    You can bet your booty that some congressman or senator will raise the same questions that Hoover had.

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